, 2000

Latest news from America's Progressive Community

Search | Sign Up | Privacy
  NewsCenter > NewsWire > For Immediate Release     


JUNE 24, 1998
6:50 PM
CONTACT:  National Environmental Trust
Mike Casey 202-887-8832

Enviros Urge Governors Not To Endorse Industry Effort To Roll Back Strong Smog Standards
E-mail Shows Industry Lobbyist Helping Coordinate Efforts Of Governors
WASHINGTON - June 24 -  Environmental groups today called on nine governors not to endorse a weakening of federal smog-cutting plans and to disclose contacts between utility industry lobbyists and their staffs.

According to recent press accounts, aides to West Virginia Governor Cecil Underwood and a powerful utility lobbyist plan to have the governors of several southeastern and midwestern states offer a much looser alternative to the US Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) smog reduction plan.

Smog is a potent respiratory irritant that particularly affects senior citizens, asthmatics and children. The governors’ plan would double the allowable smog from power plants over EPA’s plan.

The lobbyist, Dale Heydlauff, is vice president for one of the nation’s largest utilities, American Electric Power. Heydlauff authored an e-mail message that was sent to other utility lobbyists encouraging them to, "audibly grumble about the stringency of the [governors’] proposal, while acknowledging that they can probably live with it." The message acknowledges that the lobbyists favor the governors’ plan, and press accounts indicate that the lobbyists helped write the governors’ plan. Heydlauff says in the e-mail message that the lobbyists should criticize the plan to enhance its political "positioning."

In a letter to the governors today, the environmental groups asked the governors to refuse to sign the weaker anti-smog plan. The groups also want the governors to disclose details of all lobbying contact between the utility lobbyists and their administrations pertaining to the smog issue.

The federal EPA smog plan would require modernization of pollution controls for older coal-burning power plants that are currently exempt from important air pollution standards. The exemptions were granted twenty years ago on industry pledges to replace the dirty plants with modern, cleaner ones. Virtually none have actually been replaced.


The Letter from environmental groups to governors:


June 24, 1998

Hon. Jim Edgar, Governor, State of Illinois

Hon. John Engler, Governor, State of Michigan

Hon. James S. Gilmore, Governor, Commonwealth of Virginia

Hon. Frank O’Bannon, Governor, State of Indiana

Hon. Paul Patton, Governor, Commonwealth of Kentucky

Hon. Tom Ridge, Governor, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania

Hon. Don Sundquist, Governor, State of Tennessee

Hon. Tommy G. Thompson, Governor, State of Wisconsin

Hon. Cecil H. Underwood, Governor, State of West Virginia

Hon. George V. Voinovich, Governor, State of Ohio

Re: Utilities’ Attempt to Kill Smog Safeguards

Dear Governor:

As the enclosed story from Monday’s Wall Street Journal indicates, smog from dirty power plants and other sources is an even more serious health threat than previously thought. That's why we are concerned that you are being asked to join with polluting industry lobbyists to mislead the public and kill nationwide smog safeguards.

Industry lobbyists have been in close touch with at least one state official in coordinating strategy to kill the national safeguards. They have conspired to make it look as if a proposal to weaken the Environmental Protection Agency's smog-cutting plan would be in the public interest. It would be a favor to utilities that operate dirty, outdated power plants that burn coal--many of which have been exempt from portions of the Clean Air Act for over 20 years.

According to this strategy, some Midwestern and Southeastern states would effectively propose to kill the smog protection rules, and utilities would "audibly grumble about the stringency of the proposal, while acknowledging that they can probably live with it," according to an industry memo.

The memo asks utilities to "be prepared to complain about the costs and the difficulty of complying with the established deadlines," but to stop short of actually trying to block it--"obviously," it says, because "the proposal actually resembles the ACAP [industry] position...with a few ‘minor’ alterations."

Members of the undersigned environmental groups learned late last week that your office has been named as a target for this lobbying effort. A copy of the industry memo is enclosed for your review.

Please do not join this cynical and orchestrated effort to mislead the public and dirty our air. Smog puts kids and seniors in the hospital during summer months, causing or aggravating lung diseases like asthma, bronchitis, and emphysema, leading to premature death, and lowering the quality of life for everyone. The Midwestern and Southeastern states have most to gain from the EPA’s power plant smog safeguards because that is where the air pollution problem is the most persistent. This summer already looks as if it may be one of the worst smog seasons on record.

Specifically, we ask:

1. that you reject the request that you sign on to the multi-state proposal to kill the smog rules, so that your name cannot be used in this dishonest effort to weaken air quality standards that
protect us all from dangerous levels of smog; and

2. that you disclose the details of all lobbying contacts between the utility lobbyists in question and your administration, providing the full disclosure that is essential for the public to understand how the state’s clean air policy was influenced and whether it is adequate to protect public health.

Please don’t let dirty power plants dictate your state’s clean air strategy. Stand up and support progress to clean up the air and protect public health.


Sally Billups, Michigan Environmental Council
Ron Burke, American Lung Assn. – Chicago Chapter
Phil Clapp, National Environmental Trust
David Hawkins, Natural Resources Defense Council
Alan Jones, Tennessee Environmental Council
Gene Karpinski, US Public Interest Group
Andy Knott, Hoosier Environmental Council
Joseph Minott, Clean Air Council (Pennsylvania)
Keith Reopelle, Wisconsin Environmental Decade
John Thompson, Illinois Environmental Council
Kurt Waltzer, Ohio Environmental Council

E-mail message from American Electric Power utility lobbyist, discussing Corky DeMarco, staff member in West Virginia governor’s office

>>>Date: Thu, 18 Jun 1998 14:03:15 -0400
>>>Subject: Corky DeMarco
>>>X-UIDL: 187cc6e947929e2de8e33f45486d1e61
>>>I had another opportunity to speak with Corky DeMarco this morning about
>>>the Governors' strategy to sell their package to other states and in
>>>Washington. In the near term, he would like our help in solidifying
>>>support for the proposal in Indiana and Illinois. He would also like to
>>>get North Carolina, Missouri and Wisconsin on board before the announcement
>>>on June 25 and would like any help we can provide in this regard. He told
>>>me that the group is willing to offer North Carolina an exemption from the
>>>initial reduction requirements, similar to that provided to South Carolina
>>>and Alabama, and is willing to accommodate Wisconsin if it needs a higher
>>>level of initial emission reductions applicable to their utilities. After
>>>a conversation with Pennsylvania officials, WV has abandoned efforts to
>>>secure Pennsylvania's support for the package before June 25. However,
>>>they intend to work with the State in the hopes of attracting them as a
>>>supporter after it has been submitted. They also intend to approach the
>>>State of Maryland, and perhaps other states for support during July.
>>>When the proposal is unveiled, he believes it would be most helpful if
>>>ACAP, MOG and other utility groups could audibly grumble about the
>>>stringency of the proposal, while acknowledging that they can probably live
>>>with it. He sees a lot of benefit from us positioning the Governors to the
>>>left of our position, even if the proposal actually resembles the ACAP
>>>position (which he assured me it does with a few "minor" alterations).
>>>Consequently, utilities should be prepared to complain about the costs and
>>>the difficulty of complying with the established deadlines, but he
>>>obviously does not want us to oppose the proposal.
>>>Corky, and perhaps other state representatives, would like to meet with
>>>ACAP members the week of June 29 to plot our political strategy for the
>>>month of July. I suggested that he call Liz Lanier and extend the
>>>invitation for us to meet in Charleston, Cincinnati, Washington or wherever
>>>it would be most convenient for the state representatives. He promised to
>>>do so. The states are contemplating retaining a consultant to represent
>>>them and help marshal the support of their Congressional Delegations and
>>>Washington Offices. I told him that we were amenable to a complementary,
>>>but separate, Washington lobbying campaign.


Common Dreams NewsCenter is a non-profit news service
providing breaking news and views for the Progressive Community.

The press release posted here has been provided to Common Dreams NewsWire by one of the many progressive organizations who make up America's Progressive Community. If you wish to comment on this press release or would like more information, please contact the organization directly.
*all times Eastern US (GMT-5:00)

Making News?
E-mail us your news release!

Tell Us What You Think:

Copyrighted 1997-2000 All Rights Reserved. Common Dreams.